A common theme that comes up when talking with other scientists and academics is that we wish we had more time to read. I’ve been trying to figure out how to do a better job of reading for years, and spent 2015 tracking my reading using #365papers. The goal of that was to read a paper every day – I wasn’t planning on reading work papers on weekends, but I thought there would be enough work days where I read more than one paper that it would offset it. I was wrong. I didn’t get anywhere near 365 (I got to 181), but it still motivated me to read more than I would have – at least, until teaching Intro Bio completely took over.
Having just completed another semester of teaching Intro Bio (and having it take over), I was thinking again about how to reprioritize reading. I decided that I would prefer to have a time goal (30 minutes per day) rather than a paper goal, since I felt like having a paper goal was distorting my reading habits in a way that wasn’t useful.
I mentioned on twitter that I was thinking of using a time goal this year, and loved this reply:
That was exactly what I had in mind! So, in the end, I’m going to use #readinghour to track my reading this year, even though my goal is 30 minutes per day.
- Read at least 30 minutes on work days
- On some non-work days, aim to spend 30 minutes reading books that are sort of work related but not enough to feel like I should spend work time reading them (e.g., The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, Merchants of Doubt).
My #readinghour goal will be greatly aided by not teaching this semester and being on sabbatical next fall. (Yes, I realize how lucky I am.) My hope is that having a goal like this will allow me to make sure reading stays a priority throughout the year.
If you’d like to join in using the #readinghour hashtag, please do! Your goals/rules don’t have to match mine. But I know I’m not alone in wanting to try to carve out more time for reading, and hope the idea of a reading hour (or half hour or twenty minutes or whatever works for you!) will help others.